Of all U.S. engagements in recent years, Afghanistan has been uniquely exploited for political purposes, both by the Bush administration and by Democrats–Obama among them–eager to appear sufficiently ‘hawkish.’ Although we are today vastly removed, temporally and psychologically from the immediate context of the invasion and cannot appreciate the security and political calculus behind the decisions made at the time, I think it is fair to say that going into a country infamous as the ‘graveyard of empires’ with no obvious long-term goals or strategy seems rather foolish, to say the least. There is little probability of a policy of nation-building—by an external power in a country historically known for internal divisions and lack of unity—being successful. Moreover, the tools and formulas for military success are not well-suited to ‘imposing’ peace in what has been only superficially a military problem, and strategies aimed at fighting terrorism are not successful in fighting the Taliban’s insurgency–which has been able to draw upon a substantial base for popular support. By entangling itself with a corrupt regime, the U.S. has deeply compromised its image in the eyes of Afghanistan’s people and the world. Supporting Karzai almost unconditionally—despite credible allegations of fraud in his reelection, corruption in his government and among his family members, and his increasing unpopularity—has implicated the U.S. in the abuses of his administration. With a timetable set for withdrawal of U.S. troops by 2015, ‘victory’ isn’t close to being a reality. History will see the U.S.—alongside the Russians and the British—as responsible for Afghanistan’s future and the challenges that it will face as a nation.